Sir Terry Leahy. Lord Stuart Rose. Harriet Green. All have been hailed as iconic leaders of businesses in the UK. But what do they have in common – and is there a gene that makes the perfect leader? Simon Hayward, chief executive of leadership development specialist Cirrus, and author of business book Connected Leadership, says that what we demand of the person in charge has changed.
“When we look at leadership potential, we’re not necessarily looking for the attributes we were ten years ago. For a business to survive and thrive today, it needs to adapt to changing market forces in what is still an unpredictable environment. So we need leaders who are agile and can respond swiftly to challenges,” he says.
Today’s organisations are also more accepting of modern approaches, Hayward says. The “divide and conquer” technique is no longer fit for purpose. “We’re seeing a move away from ‘hero’ leadership, where a single person sets the culture, to a collaborative, ‘shared’ style,” he says.